Guest Post: David Marlett – AMERICAN RED


Good day, my fellow book people. Instead of focusing on contemporary fiction, today our sights are turning to history, specifically historical fiction as I welcome the author of the recently released American Red, David Marlett. Mr. Marlett is an award-winning author of historical fiction and today he will be providing us with some background information on how this book came into being. So let’s travel back in time with Mr. Marlett and American Red.





Ten years ago, I had heard about the first assassination by bombing in the United States (of the governor of Idaho in 1906), and I was familiar with Clarence Darrow’s famous closing argument in the subsequent murder trial. But my interest in tackling this sweeping epic as a historical novel didn’t begin until I read J. Anthony Lukas’s non-fiction book on the subject, Big Trouble. That lead me to explore more, and with each additional trial transcript and uncovered fact, the closer I came to the story. Soon the characters began to take form, and the plot structure began to reveal itself. But, as it is a big story across a large part of the United States, a significant obstacle was narrowing the story to its key events and characters, finding the arcs, etc., and of course, deciding what I wanted the novel to say.

Even with that narrowing, and the merging (in a couple of instances) of historical characters into single invented ones, etc., American Red still plays host to an ensemble cast—each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. I was once asked whom among them I most enjoyed writing—to which I responded that it was the old Pinkerton, Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of American Red‘s many actual characters from history—a true-to-life man, bold and brazen—wildly famous at the time for his daring detective work. We find him squinting at the dimming light of his life and career, while rooted in the century that had passed. So, he does what he knows—he takes action—one big gamble, one last major action, convincing himself that the flagrant illegalities he undertakes are balanced by the justice he is trying to bring. I love his single-minded focus in the face of such obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty. That moral struggle and wrestling with mortality is so universal that McParland rises to almost iconic stature.

American Red is unique among historical novels, even those set in American history. Rather than addressing oft-trod paths and characters, American Red ventures into a societal wilderness, a lesser-explored time in American history that seems shockingly familiar, even over a hundred years later. I am hard-pressed to find a comparable book of that time and geographic area. Most historical crime stories of that era focus on mob developments on the east coast, of the first-generation immigrant experience. But American Red tackles the men and women of what was, by then, the end of the Wild West. The march of technological advancement had arrived, and their isolationist world was collapsing, with new international ideas flooding in, seeping out into the far west. To me, this is far more reflective of who/what America would become—as the nation unknowingly raced toward the World Wars and the Depression. Further, American Red provides a glancing, raw image of the unique role of faith of the era, and a candid look at the relationships between men and women. American Red is a tapestry of humanity (not just Americans), both in honor and in horror, both in victory and defeat—and therein do can we see ourselves. 






Author Bio:


David Marlett

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter

— said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.

Find Our Author Online:


davidmarlett.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook




American Red

by David Marlett

on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019


Synopsis:


American Red by David Marlett


In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.



Book Details


Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: July 2nd 2019
Number of Pages: 535
ISBN: 1611881781 (ISBN13: 9781611881783)
Purchase Links:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads




Tour Host Participants:


Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


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Guest Post: Peter Murphy – THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER



Hello, my bookish divas and divos. I’m always interested in learning what makes authors tick, so to speak. What makes them feel compelled to write? Why do they write the stories they write? Today, I’m honored to host a visit by Peter Murphy, author of the recently released The Last Weekend of the Summer and more, and he’ll be revealing his path to becoming a writer. Ladies and gents, I give you Mr. Peter Murphy.






Looking back, I suppose it was inevitable that I should end up as a writer.


I was born in Killarney, Ireland, the youngest of six boys who ranged from four to sixteen years older than me. My mother was a woman of intellect and in another time might not have been “harnessed” with a family. She was inspiring but had a sharp tongue and little patience for fools—and on occasion children. Her peer group included women who went on to have a profound impact on Ireland in their various fields, law, literature, education, and politics. She died many years ago but she would have been proud of what I became; as well as a vibrant critic as she was a bit of a cultural snob.

My father was once a charming fellow who succumbed to alcoholism and made life hell on earth for my family. But he had one gift—he was a great storyteller. In those times when he tried to reconnect with all that he was losing, I was treated to bedtime stories of such vibrancy that I remembered every detail when I shared them with my own children.

Growing up, our house was like a dusty old library. There were books everywhere. On tables, on chairs, on window ledges and, of course, in the bathroom. My mother would not allow television. She often declared, with a sniff and quick flick of her head, that television would make the world a far more stupid place. Instead, we read and, as my older brothers had a very wide range of interests, I read a great variety of books—some of which might not have been age appropriate.

Like most families, we had our share of sibling rivalries and our choice in books became ammunition in the fiery debates that occurred. As the youngest, I was constantly negotiating shifting alliances and for the sake of inclusion, tried to read them all. And borrowed opinions on what I read until I was old enough to form my own. The result is that I tend to be genre-free in my reading and, I suppose, in my writing. 

That said I devoured all of the Agatha Christie books I could find. I had a Len Deighton period, toured the old west with Louis L’Amour, had wonderful childhood summers with Enid Blyton, and when it was time to understand all things female, studied Jane Austen.

I struggled through Joyce and rewarded myself with the rest of the Irish mob, Flan O’Brien, James Stephens, the great and gracious Edna O’Brien who wrote what could not be said aloud back then. She was a bit dark but then there was the delightful Maeve Binchy who I met through my mother—back when she was just starting out.

I got serious for a while with the Germans, Hesse during my transcendental period, Mann when I began to “study” writing, and Heinrich Böll after I discovered a discarded copy of The Clown

I enjoyed many laughs with P.G. Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe, indulged my love of legend and lore with Tolkien and Alan Garner, wandered through Sci-Fi, Religious, Irreligious, Political . . . The list goes on and on to this day.

The point of all of this is that I cannot define what genre I write in. I don’t even try anymore. I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller because that is what it is. I have the same view of most things we might call “art.” It is about telling a story through one media or another. I am happy with that and refrain from getting involved in the type of discussion where one might hear terms like “Literature,” “postmodern,” “metanarrative.” I think there are bigger problems in the world and I do confess to indulging in guilty pleasures like watching a favorite TV show but don’t tell my mother.

I have had, by accident and by design, a very interesting life so far. I have had my share of heartbreak and setback, but I think this journey we are on is remarkable—so remarkable that I have to tell stories about it.

Notwithstanding what I said early, my first novel, Lagan Love, was filed under literary fiction. It had to be. It was my homage to Dublin and the times I had lived in. I wrote it to keep a promise to my younger self. As a young man I spent hours in a pub called Grogan’s. It was, and remains, a literary type of place in that writers and other artsy types frequent it, along with the more down to earth. Lagan Love was conceived there and you can read about that here: http://peterdamienmurphy.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-behind-lagan-love.html.

Following that, I began a story about a young man with a very checkered future. After three different attempts to get the story started, I came to the realization that it had to be a trilogy and thus Born & Bred, Wandering In Exile, and All Roads were born. They tell the story of a life that was so disrupted by past events that the protagonist, Danny Boyle, almost misses out on all of the wonderful things his future tried to give him. It is not—and I repeat not—autobiographical although much of what happened in the story happened all around me, and to people I knew. It is the product of the very interesting times we live in.

With The Last Weekend of the Summer, I suppose I am paying direct homage to the institution that shapes most of us—family. For that is where we are formed and that is where our most dominant influences come from. And, with the life I have had so far, something that I just had to write about.






The Last Weekend Of The Summer

by Peter Murphy
on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2018
The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy cover



Synopsis:



They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.

A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, The Last Weekend of the Summer is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.


Book Details


Genre: Literary Fiction

Published by: The Story Plant


Publication Date: August 28, 2018


Number of Pages: 224


ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)


Purchase Links:   Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads





Author Bio:


The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy author

Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy, and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.

But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.




Connect with Peter at:
peterdmurphy.com
Twitter – PeterD_Murphy
Facebook – PeterDMurphyAuthor





Tour Host Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




  

Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for The Story Plant and Peter Murphy. There will be 5 winners of one (1) copy of Lagan Love by Peter Murphy (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2018, and runs through November 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.


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Book Blast: JOHNNY BIG EARS, THE FEEL-GOOD FRIEND by John Paul Padilla

Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend

by John Paul Padilla
October 3, 2017 Book Blast


October is National Bullying Prevention Month! Join the Campaign with this Amazing Book!


Johnny Big-Ears, the Feel-Good Friend by John Paul Padilla

Book Details


Genre: Children

Published by: Padilla Goldworks


Publication Date: March 20, 2012


Number of Pages: 40


ISBN: 0979889847 (ISBN13: 9780979889844)


Purchase Links:   Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Amazon Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Barnes & Noble Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Goodreads



Synopsis:



Johnny BIG-EARS is just like every other five-year-old child, but when he starts his first day of kindergarten, children begin to tease him because of his enormously large ears. Follow Johnny as he faces the challenges that being different presents. How will Johnny react to being teased? Find out why Johnny turns out to be a winner in this endearing, thoughtful book that addresses typical childhood bullying and offers children advice on how to deal with teasing. Whether you’re a parent or an educator, now you will be able to encourage your kids or students through this special book and help motivate all young kids to start feeling good about themselves no matter who they are, or what they look like!


Excerpt:



Author Bio:


John Paul Padilla

John Paul Padilla was born on December 11, in Los Angeles, California. He is a multi-award winning author that includes Mom’s Choice Award. He is also a public speaker and advocate against bullying. He is currently residing in the Central Valley of California. John Paul is an ex-model and has danced for fifteen years with a dance academy. He has written lyrical, verses that were recorded by Nashville artists. He has previously published Wings to Cross an Ocean, an inspirational poetry book that encourages personal growth and happiness for adults. John Paul was inspired to write his first anti-bullying book, Johnny Big Ears, the Feel Good Friend, based on his own childhood experiences with teasing and bullying. He has also written Johnny Big-Ears, Meets His New Neighbor Suzy, for little girls, who get teased because of their weight. Both of his books are now out in Spanish. Most recently, Johnny Big-Ears won the Grand prize for best overall, Best Book Cover in the 2017 IndieBRAG First Annual Book Cover Contest.



Visit John Paul’s website: Website or catch up with Johnny Big-Ears on Twitter & Facebook!


Tour Host Participants:

Stop by the other hosts for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!





Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for John Paul Padilla. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 5 winners of one (1) print copy of Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend by John Paul Padilla, Continental US Mailing Addresses only. The giveaway begins on October 3 and runs through October 10, 2017.


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Book Showcase: CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN by Gareth Worthington

CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN Tour Banner

Children of the Fifth Sun

by Gareth Worthington

on Tour July 24 – Sept 25, 2017


Children of the Fifth Sun by Gareth Worthington

Book Details

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller | “Science Faction” science fiction, action, adventure with fact-based science, theories and mythology

Published by: Vesuvian Books

Publication Date: July 25th 2017

Number of Pages: 407

ISBN: 9781944109400

Purchase Links: Amazon  | Goodreads 

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Read this Free Preview: Amazon  & Barnes & Noble 

Synopsis:


Thousands of years ago, an ancient species from the sea saved humanity; now a cocky, free-diving photographer tortured by his past is the unlikely hero who must save the last of their kind from a global race between nations to control the creature’s power.

IN ALMOST EVERY BELIEF SYSTEM ON EARTH, there exists a single unifying mythos: thousands of years ago a great flood devastated the Earth’s inhabitants. From the ruins of this cataclysm, a race of beings emerged from the sea bestowing knowledge and culture upon humanity, saving us from our selfish drive toward extinction. Some say this race were “ancient aliens” who came to assist our evolution. But what if they weren’t alien at all? What if they evolved right here on Earth, alongside humans . . . and they are still here? And, what if the World’s governments already know?

Kelly Graham is a narcissistic, self-assured, freelance photographer specializing in underwater assignments. While on a project in the Amazon with his best friend, Chris D’Souza, a mysterious and beautiful government official, Freya Nilsson, enters Kelly’s life and turns it upside down. Her simple request to retrieve a strange object from deep underwater puts him in the middle of an international conspiracy. A conspiracy that threatens to change the course of human history.


Read an excerpt:

Freya elegantly glided in front of Kelly, breaking his train of thought. Her slender body slid through the water with grace and ease. She must have sensed his stare, because she turned her head to face him and gave a huge, regulator-filled grin. Kelly stifled a laugh.

He turned back to his equipment to check their depthsixty-five feet. They were at the sea floor. It wasn’t very deep, but this was where it was supposed to be. He motioned his right arm to get Freya’s attention. He then signaled for her to look down and keep her eyes open. She gave the okay sign.

As they swam a little further, the structure came into sight just as Alexandro’s information had indicated. A large horseshoe-shaped wall, three-feet thick and six-feet tall, spanned more than two-hundred-fifty feet in diameter. Other than that, it was unimpressive
just an old stone wall. Surely, if a team had already been down here, they would have found an orb? Kelly pulled himself along the bottom, sifting through the sand, picking up each stone he came across. He shook his head and looked across at Freya. She seemed to be having similar poor luck, pointlessly rummaging through silt and mud. He swam across to her and pointed in front, indicating his intent to look on ahead. She nodded and watched as he flicked his fins, disappearing into a haze of ocean and sand particles.

Freya returned to her treasure hunt. All she found were rocks and the odd tin or soft drink can. Ugh, it was disgusting. Even the ocean wasn’t safe from humanity. She reached the outer edge of the stone wall and swam along, keeping close to it. Her gloved fingers prodded into each crack and crevice, not that she could feel anything through the thick material. Her mask was beginning to fill with water. She thought about Kelly’s instruction and began the mask clearing procedure.

Pressing the palm of her right hand against the top of her mask so the bottom released a few millimeters from her face, she exhaled hard through her nose, forcing the water out. A stream of bubbles crashed about her head in a white-water curtain. As it cleared, a small metallic glint protruding from beneath one of the huge stone bricks caught her eye. She clawed her way to it, then started digging in the sand. The fine silt clouded up around her, obscuring her view. Using only her limited sense of touch, Freya kept tunneling under the wall. The familiar shape of a box began to form under her fingers. She dug beneath until she could grip the box with both hands. Tugging hard, she released the cuboid object from its hold in the silt. The billow of sand cleared.

She stared at her treasure. It was a small chest, copper-colored with a green oxidized coating on its surface. She smiled. Could this be it? Could there be an orb inside? The excitement power through her. She raised her head to see if Kelly was nearby, but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. She swam in a circle. The inability to hear or feel anything was unnerving. She only had the power of sight and that was restricted to a straight line in front of her for one hundred fifty feet or so.

The light above her dimmed. Freya frowned and raised her head to investigate. Above her, the huge shadow of a shark glided by. She knew her mask would magnify any object, but still, the thing looked huge. Its blunt snout and thick body looked positively primeval
the perfect predator. Panic set in.

Damn, where was Kelly? Clutching her treasure, Freya lowered her head. She searched for the knife strapped to her right calf. Before she could find it, her gaze was met by the cold stare of reptilian eyes. A sea snake was inches from her face, rippling its body to hold its position. Its eyes were fixed on hers. She froze, holding her breath. Freya shifted her focus from the uncomfortably close predator to the shadow lurking behind it. Oh God. The shark?

It was Kelly. A brief feeling of relief washed over her, but it was snatched away by the searing pain of fangs plunging into her left hand. Freya gargled a scream through her regulator and dropped the box, letting it fall to the sea floor. The snake shot off into murk as Kelly tore through the water toward her. Her breathing slowed and her limbs grew heavy. Her eyelids slid closed. She blinked before her eyes closed one last time.

* * *

Excerpt from Children of the Fifth Sun by Gareth Worthington. Copyright © 2017 by Gareth Worthington. Reproduced with permission from Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary. All rights reserved.

More about Gareth Worthington:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in endocrinology, and currently educates the World’s doctors on new cancer therapies. Gareth has hand tagged sharks in California; won honorable mention at the New York Book Festival 2012 and 2013 for his writing; and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and MMA at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and Phoenix KampfSport Switzerland. Born in Plymouth UK, Worthington currently resides outside of Zurich, Switzerland.

Visit Gareth Online:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Tour Host Participants:

Stop by the other hosts for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Gareth Worthington and GH Literary. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN by Gareth Worthington. The giveaway begins on July 24th and runs through September 27th, 2017.


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Guest Post: Cara Sue Achterberg, author of PRACTICING NORMAL



Good morning my fellow book lovers. Today, the Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit by Cara Sue Achterberg, author of I’m Not Her, Girls’ Weekend, and her newest fiction release Practicing Normal. Ms. Achterberg will be discussing being a vigilant observer as an author, the origins of characters, and more.






Here’s the question I get most often: Are the characters in your books based on people you know?

The answer is yes.

And no

Because, sure, they’re based on people I know—but not intentionally

All writers, (even the ones who deny it), base their characters on people they know. There’s really no way around it.

Writers, as a species, are watchers. We watch everyone. We note their eccentricities and their oddities, but also the color of their hair and the size of their noses. We notice their verbal tics. We pay attention to their neuroses. Their habits, shoe size, weird fetishes, obsessions, wardrobe and even their allergies can find their way into our mental data base of people qualities. And then they come back to us when characters are being formed in our imagination. There is nothing new under the sun, right? I’d bank my life on it.

So, yeah, my characters are totally based on people I know, but then again they aren’t. My son once had a fencing instructor who was clearly a character out of a book—his affected speech pattern, his pristine grooming habits, his obsession with medieval customs. It is very tempting to use him for a story. I don’t, because my family and others in our community would recognize him anywhere. And that would be distracting and take the reader completely out of the story. (And yet his salt and pepper, perfectly symmetrical mustache just might show up some day.)

If people thought I openly based my characters on people I know, life could be pretty tough for me here in the small town that I live in where we write the check for our local taxes to Julie Rohrbaugh and we get the first day of hunting season off as a school holiday. Everyone would look at me differently. I’d like to think they’d behave better around me for fear of winding up on my pages, but most likely I’d have a hard time finding an open seat on the bleachers for the Friday night football game or a spot at the bar in the only restaurant in town that serves alcohol.

So, nope. Everett, the philandering husband in my latest novel, Practicing Normal, is no one I know. Just as I don’t know any teenagers who regularly break into houses or any hospice nurses who have seven cats.

Still, it’s the mark of good writing when the characters are recognizable as someone you might know and I hope you will recognize a few of these people, especially JT, the brilliant kid with Asperger’s Syndrome (my favorite character).

Here’s a confession, though, I did base the two dogs in my story on real dogs I know. If you’re a regular reader of my dog blog you might recognize two of my previous fosters dogs trotting through the story. Maybe that’s the best part about being a writer—having the power to create not just worlds and plots, but characters and even dogs. 

Yeah, I like my job.




Practicing Normal

by Cara Sue Achterberg
on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2017



Practicing Normal

Book Details


Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1611882443 (ISBN13: 9781611882445)

Get Your Copy of Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads!




Synopsis:


The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.



The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.

Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

Kudos:


“Does facing the truth beat living a lie? In PRACTICING NORMAL, Cara Sue Achterberg has given us a smart story that is both a window and a mirror, about the extraordinary pain ― and the occasional gifts ― of an ordinary life.”
– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN

“What does it really mean to have a normal life? Achterberg’s stunning new novel explores how a family can fracture just trying to survive, and how what makes us different is also what can make us most divine.”
– Caroline Leavitt, author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and the New York Times bestsellers PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW

“PRACTICING NORMAL takes a deep dive into the dysfunctional dynamics of a ‘picture perfect family.’ A compelling story about the beautiful humanity in the most ordinary of lives: from first love to a marriage on the downward slide to an unexpected family tragedy. Achterberg handles each thread with tender care and we can’t help but root for every member of the Turner family.”
– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THE VANISHING YEAR


Read an excerpt:



Waving to Jenna as she waits at the bus stop, all I can think is, Please let her go to school today and stay in school all day. Jenna is such a smart girl; I don’t understand why she doesn’t apply herself to her studies. She could be anything. A doctor, even. I was a nurse, but Jenna is smarter than me. Of course, that was twenty years ago. Before I married Everett. Before Jenna and JT were born. Before we ever lived in Pine Estates.

I was the one who chose the house. Everett thought it was pretentious, and it was. All the houses on our end of Pine Road were pretentious. But it was the nineties. Everyone was building McMansions and taking out ridiculous loans to pay for them. Everett had just left his job as a police officer for the job at FABSO (Family and Business Security Options).

We needed to start a new life. We celebrated the new job and didn’t talk about the fact that things could have turned out very differently if his captain had chosen to bring charges against him. Instead, he recommended Everett for the job at FABSO and made it clear Everett would be wise to take it.

I remember lying in bed holding Everett the day he turned in his gun and his badge. He was devastated. Being a cop had been Everett’s dream since childhood. “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a cop. If I can’t be a cop, who am I?”

“You’re a father and a husband. That’s so much more,” I told him. He didn’t say anything about it again. He got to work. He made something of FABSO. And he’s tried so hard to be a good dad.

I don’t remember much about my own dad, and whenever I asked my mother she would say, “There’s nothing to remember about that louse except that he was a louse.” When I pressed her later, after I’d grown up, she’d said, “It doesn’t matter now. He didn’t want to be with us enough to stay.”

All that bitterness can’t hide the fact that when my father left, he apparently took my mother’s heart. She’s spent the rest of her life alone. Except for me. And Evelyn. Although, once Evelyn left home, she didn’t come around much. These days she visits Mama on Saturdays, unless she has something more pressing to do, which is most weeks. Mama annoys her. I suppose I do too. We don’t fit into Evelyn’s shiny, perfect life.

When I first met Everett and told Mama about him, she was skeptical. “A cop?”

I told her how he’d wanted to be a cop since he was a little boy, the same way I always wanted to be a nurse. I gushed about how he told me I was beautiful and how he said he’d been certain about us the first time he saw me. Mama said, “Men will say whatever it takes, Kate. When will you realize that?” But I knew she was wrong about Everett.

I met Everett in the ER. I was treating a patient who was high on coke or meth or God knows what. He was lean and riddled with track marks, his strength coming from whatever drug was flooding his body. I didn’t recognize him as one of our regulars—the ones who showed up like clockwork in search of pain meds. This guy was out of his mind and covered in his own blood from where he’d scratched his thin skin. Another nurse helped me attempt to strap him to the gurney with the Velcro holds, but he was out of his mind and reached for the needle I was about to use to sedate him. Everett was nearby at the desk filling out forms and heard me yell. In just moments, he wrestled the junkie to the ground and held him still as I plunged the needle in. When the man finally collapsed, Everett lifted him back onto the gurney and secured him.

When he turned and looked at me with his green eyes, the same eyes Jenna has, I knew I would marry him. I told him that on our second date. He laughed. I’ve always loved his laugh.

When Everett started at FABSO, he made nearly twice the salary he’d made as a cop. I didn’t need to work any longer. It was our chance. I would stay home and take care of our happy family in our beautiful house in Pine Estates. It was our new start. I thought we belonged there.

When I open the door to Mama’s house, she’s already calling for me. She may be losing her mind, but her hearing hasn’t deteriorated one bit.

“You’re late!” she scolds.

“Sorry, JT had a hard time picking out a shirt to wear today.”

“He’s not a baby! I don’t know why you put up with it.”

I smile at her. No sense taking the bait. “You’re right, Mama.”

“You’ve always been so indecisive. I swear if I didn’t tell you what to do next, you’d stand there like a statue.”

“Good thing you’re so good at telling me what to do,” I mutter as I go to prepare her tea.

Mama wasn’t always like this. When Evelyn and I were little, she was our whole world. She baked homemade cakes for our birthdays, and elaborately decorated them with whatever we were currently obsessing over—Tinker Bell, Barbies, guitars, or, for Evelyn, a computer one year, and the scales of justice the year she announced she was going to be a judge when she grew up.

Mama read to us every night. I remember snuggling into the crook of her arm, even when I was too old to be doing it. Evelyn would be on her other side and our hands would meet on Mama’s flat tummy. I loved the stories with a happy ending, but Evelyn demanded that she read “real books.” She wanted mysteries and thrillers instead of the children’s books Mama picked out at the library. So Mama began to read Nancy Drew, but Evelyn went to the adult aisle and picked out John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. Mama tried to read them to us. She’d come to a part that she felt was too racy for us and she’d hum while she skimmed ahead til she found a more appropriate section before beginning to read again. This drove Evelyn nuts. She’d pout and complain, eventually stomping off. Mama would return the books to the library unread, but it wasn’t long before Evelyn was old enough to have her own library card and checked them out for herself.

In the mornings, Mama would braid our hair, pack our lunches with tiny handwritten notes, and walk us to the bus stop for more years than was appropriate. When Evelyn reached high school, she demanded that Mama stop, but she still followed us with her car and waited to be certain we got on the bus safely.

Now that I’m a mom, I know it couldn’t have been easy raising us alone. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten difficult. But I put up with her increasing number of quirks because I feel I owe her. Evelyn doesn’t see it that way, but then again Evelyn doesn’t feel she owes anybody anything.

“Here you go.” I hand Mama the bitter Earl Grey tea she likes over-steeped with no sweetener.

“I’ve already missed Phillip,” she says as I help her out the door to the back porch. She spends most mornings there, talking to the birds that frequent her multiple bird feeders.

“Who’s Phillip?” I ask, mostly to make conversation. She loves to talk about the birds.

The look she gives me is just like the one JT gives me when my random “Wow” comes at the wrong time in one of his lengthy soliloquies on his current obsession. “Phillip is the male cardinal who has begun stopping by each morning. He comes over the fence from the southeast. He’s usually here before the chickadees move in and take over the birdbath.”

I look at the crowd of birds fighting over the seed at the feeder. They all look the same to me. “I’ve got to take care of a few things at home after I run JT to school; I’ll be back at lunchtime.”

“Always leaving me!” she complains. “You can’t even spend five minutes with your mother.”

I’d protest, but there’s no point. She sees things the way she needs to see them. Rewriting history is one of her specialties. I’ve been listening to her do it all my life. When Everett and I took the kids to the beach last summer, she said, “Must be nice! I’ve never had a vacation.” Yet, I remember several summers when Mama took Evelyn and me to the same beach we were headed to. Or when I graduated from nursing school, Mama said, “I’ve always said you’d make a fine nurse,” when, in reality, she’d been telling me for years that I could never be a nurse because I was so weak at chemistry. She thought I should have considered something in business—like being a secretary. She’s been spinning her stories of Evelyn’s escapades, my mistakes, and my father’s general louse-likeness for so long, she probably believes them as gospel truth. They are, I suppose, at least to her mind.

I hurry home, hoping JT has finally decided on a shirt for school. We’re going to be late if we have to argue about it.

Excerpt from Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg.  Copyright © 2017 by Cara Sue Achterberg. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.





Cara Sue Achterberg

Author Bio:



Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller, as was her second, Girls’ Weekend. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com.

CaraWrites.com | Cara Sue Achterberg on Twitter | Cara Sue Achterberg on Facebook



Tour Host Participants:

Stop by these awesome hosts for reviews, guest posts, interviews, & more giveaways!






This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Cara Sue Achterberg and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Girls’ Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2017 and runs through August 3, 2017. Void where prohibited by law.


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2017 Book 144: CROSSING THE STREET by Molly D. Campbell

Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell 
ISBN: 9781611882483 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781945839054 (ebook)
ASIN: B06XH34GLC (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Fiction Studio Books | The Story Plant 
Release Date: May 9, 2017

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down. 

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed. Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street. Crossing the Street is a funny, touching novel that brims with life’s complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.  



Rebecca “Beck” Throckmorton decided at a very early age that she didn’t want children. Her one serious relationship ended because he wanted children and she didn’t. Unfortunately for Beck, he then decided to marry and have children with Beck’s sister. Now Beck is a thirty-something-year-old author of women’s erotic fiction, part-time barista, cat owner, and her life has stalled. One of her best friends is an octogenarian, Ella, and her other best friend, Gail, she’s known since elementary school. It’s bad enough that Beck’s sister Diana married the one-that-got-away and is now pregnant, Beck’s friend Ella is now guardian to a lively eight-year-old girl. Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell is the story of the twists-and-turns in life, the complications of friendship and family, and love.

I found Crossing the Street to be a fast-paced, quick, and enjoyable read. I liked Beck despite all of her drama. I fell in love with eight-year-old Bob (Roberta). For someone that doesn’t want children and is mad at her sister, Beck does an admirable job of stepping up and taking care of her eight-year-old neighbor, her infant nephew, and her sister. There were parts of this story that made me smile, parts that made me laugh (Beck describing her “blind dates” set up by Gail is priceless), and parts that brought a tear to my eye (almost everything dealing with Bob’s past). Although classified as women’s fiction, I don’t think Crossing the Street can be classified as just one type of story as it is part coming-of-age (for Beck), part family saga, part love story (not romantic love but familial and friendship love), part tragedy, and part comedy. Ms. Campbell has created characters and action that are realistic and wholly believable. I wholeheartedly recommend you grab a copy of Crossing the Street if you’re looking for something to read that’s just a little bit different. I enjoyed reading Crossing the Street and look forward to reading more from Ms. Campbell. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book via Providence Book Promotions for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Crossing the Street

by Molly D. Campbell

on Tour May 9 – July 7, 2017



Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell

Book Details


Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Number of Pages: 290

Purchase Crossing the Street on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads






Read an excerpt:

My life isn’t exactly bright and shiny. My name is Rebecca Throckmorton. I live in a small town, and I muddle along as best I can. Four scenes from my world:

Scene one: I am at the grocery store. Aimlessly wandering down the produce aisle, looking at the grocery list, as usual, in my mother’s elegant hand. What the hell is a rutabaga, and why do we need one? Suddenly, I see my father, who is long gone from our family—divorce. He is wearing a gold golf shirt, his khaki slacks, crisp and unwrinkled. His hair from the back is a bit silvery, as I am sure it would be after being away from our family for all these years. My heart lurches—He’s back! He came back! I abandon my cart and nearly bowl over a woman studying kiwis, knocking the one in her hand to the ground. I don’t even stop to apologize, because my dad. I come up behind him, breathe in his cologne—yup, Eau de Sauvage. I reach out to touch his shoulder, and he turns around. I gasp. The man is definitely not Dexter Throckmorton. Instead of a Roman nose, this guy has a schnozz. There is awful hair growing out of his nostrils. His eyes are not velvety and black, like my father’s—they are a watery gray and clouded with cataracts. He hears me gasp and asks, “Do I know you?” I abandon the rutabaga and rush out of the store, grocery list still crushed between my fingers.

Scene two: My sister’s wedding. I am wearing a sleeveless, misty green satin dress with two small lines of silver sequins along the bodice. The misty green is reflected in my coloring and makes me look slightly vomitous. I feel about to vomit, since my sister Diana is marrying my former boyfriend, Bryan Dallas, who stands at the end of the aisle, beaming, his horn rims polished so highly I worry that he might start a fire with their refractions into the balcony. As D comes down the aisle on my mother’s arm (see divorce, above), my mother looking for all the world like an aging Audrey Hepburn in a slender tube of taupe silk, I look down at my bouquet and stifle the impulse to hurl it in my sister’s smug, highly-made-up-with-false-eyelashes-and-dewy-lip-gloss face.

Scene three: Me and my girlfriend, Ella Bowers. I sit with her in front of the TV. We like to watch really old reruns of Lawrence Welk that I found for her on the Family Network. Ella pats down her soft, fluffy lavender white hair, and every time Myron Floren comes on comments how much her mother “just loved that man and his accordion.” I nod and agree, because I don’t intend to hurt her feelings—Ella is eighty-three, and I don’t want her to get riled up and have a stroke. I notice my cut glass tumbler of iced tea is empty, and I offer to go into the kitchen of her cozy bungalow and get us each some more.

Scene four: My day job and what really pays the bills. I get home from my part-time job at Starbucks at four. I stretch, try to do the downward facing dog, and fail, as usual, about three quarters of the way down. My cat, Simpson, ambles over for a purr, and then I go and pee, change into sweats, and sit down at my computer, where I pound out a scene in which four orgasms occur within the space of twenty minutes between Travis and Crystal, who are extremely talented genitally. My latest book, Boys on the Beach, is under contract and due at my publisher in two months. When I think about this, sweat pools into the cups of my bra, because I am behind schedule, and erotica pays the bills, not venti lattes.

There you have it.




Author Bio:



Molly D. Campbell

Molly D. Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner and the author of one previous novel, Keep the Ends Loose. Molly blogs at http://mollydcampbell.com. Also an artist, Molly’s work can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/notexactlypicasso. Molly lives in Dayton with her accordionist husband and four cats.



Catch Up With Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook



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Here’s Your Chance to WIN!

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of 1 Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell. The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.


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Guest Post: Steven Manchester, author of ASHES

It is always an honor when an author agrees to stop by for a visit, it is doubly so when it is a return visit. Today, The Book Diva’s Reads welcomes Steven Manchester, author of the recently released Ashes, Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, and more. Mr. Manchester will be answering some frequently asked questions about writing, his writing, and more. Thank you, Mr. Manchester, for taking time out of your busy schedule and giving us some insight into your thoughts on writing and your writing goals.




Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

As far as we know, we only get one shot at this thing called life—so we each need to make it a great one. It’s important to stop wasting time drifting along and take complete responsibility for our lives; living each moment with real intention. 


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Stephen King—not in genre, but in discipline. Stephen King is a prolific writer who is a master of our craft. I have read everything I could get on him and have been inspired.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?

In Ashes, two brothers—estranged for fifteen years—are brought together under circumstances that neither can avoid. By trapping them in a car for several long days, I was able to play out some deep, dark emotions that quickly rise to the surface. The outcome proves to be biting and comical exchange that the reader can experience as if they’re sitting right there in the backseat with the box of ashes. Although there are several twists and turns along the way, the goal was to keep the journey real and relatable—proving that every family has its fair share of dysfunction, as well as unbreakable bonds.


Have you ever had writer’s block?  If so, what do you do about it?

Honestly, I don’t believe in writer’s blocks—though I understand that they’re quite real when perceived as such. True story: I have a friend—let’s call him Jack. Anyway, he phoned me one night complaining that he was agonizing over a terrible writer’s block. “How does your story end?” I asked him and he went on to explain the ending in detail. “Good,” I said, “so write the ending and then all you have to do is fill in the middle.” He did just that. The lesson is this: Most books aren’t written from point A to point Z. If you get stuck at a certain crossroad, begin to write a passage from a different point in the book. This maintains momentum and confidence (if lost, the two causes of a perceived block). Again, I write novels like creating complicated word puzzles—only to put it all together in the end in order to paint the grandest picture I can. Do whatever works for you, but keep moving. The last thing you want is for a story to go cold on you. You could risk losing the passion, if you wait too long to finish it.


How did you develop your plot and characters?

Plot: In my estimation, the first decision in the writing process is also the toughest decision of all. You have to honestly ask yourself: What idea is good enough, or worthy enough to cost you the next year of your life? If you can sincerely say that you have one, then get started right away. Some writers spend months working out a concept before they ever put pen to paper (so when someone asks you how long it took you to write a book, there is no true way to answer this. It happens in the mind long before it ever appears between two covers).

Characters: Learn them. Know them. If they become real enough, your characters will tell the story for you. Think about it: The raised eyebrow from a well-established character is worth more than a paragraph or two. The saddest time for me is when a novel comes to its end. This is mostly true because I start to miss the people that I’ve grown to love and hate. And if you don’t feel that for your characters, then your readers won’t, either. When I’m completely vested in a story, the first thing I think about in the morning is the characters (what they’re thinking and feeling, and how they might act), and the last thing I think about before turning in at night is the characters. 


What are your goals as a writer?

My most important goal is to teach my children and be able to share what’s in my heart and mind with them. The next goal is to be creative for the rest of my life, and if I can make a good living at it—then all the better. 

I maintain two lists: What I’ve done, and what I dream of doing.  The second list is always longer. Forgive the cliché, but perhaps as a reminder to myself, writing truly is a journey. If I ever get to where I think I’m supposed to end up, then that which I love will no longer be my reality; the process of writing and creating with words. 


What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

There are too many to list. I’ve been able to touch lives in a positive way and make some sort of difference (at least I hope so). I’ve shared my dreams with my children and proved that dreams do come true—with a whole lot of perseverance and hard work. And I’ve been able to give life to the creative thoughts that constantly fight for my attention. 






Ashes
by Steven Manchester 
on Tour February 19 – April 21, 2017


Ashes by Steven Manchester

Book Details


Genre: Fiction
Published by:     The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:  

Synopsis:



Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other’s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.


At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.



Author Bio:


Steven Manchester

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.


Find Steven on his Website, on Twitter, & on Facebook!




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Don’t miss your chance to learn more about Steven Manchester & his book, Ashes! Visit the tour stops for interviews, guest posts, and lots of reviews!





Don’t Miss Your Chance to WIN Ashes!



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.


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Book Showcase: REGENERATION by Stacey Berg

Regeneration
by Stacey Berg
on Tour March 13-April 1, 2017




Book Details


Genre: Sci-Fi
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 384
Series: Echo Hunter 367, #2
Purchase Links:  


Synopsis:



The Church has stood for hundreds of years, preserving the sole surviving city in a desert wasteland. When Echo Hunter 367 is sent out past the Church’s farthest outposts, she’s sure it’s a suicide mission. But just when she’s about to give up hope, she finds the impossible – another thriving community, lush and green, with a counsel of leaders who take her in.


Wary of this new society, with ways so different from the only life she’s ever known, Echo is determined to complete her mission and bring hope back to the Church. She’s unsure who she can trust, and must be strong and not be seduced by their clean, fresh water, and plentiful energy sources. If she plays her cards right, she may even still have a chance to save the woman she loves.



Read an excerpt:



Echo Hunter 367 studied the dying woman in the desert with grudging admiration. The woman had walked long past what might reasonably be expected, if that lurching stagger could be called a walk. When she couldn’t walk any more she had crawled, and after that she had dragged herself along, fingers clawing through sand until they clutched some purchase, body scraping over rocks and debris, heedless of the damage. Now and then she made a noise, a purely animal grunt of effort or pain, but she forced herself onward, all the way until the end.

I smell the water.

Desperate as the woman was, she had still been cautious. Though an incalculable distance from any familiar place, she still recognized danger: the wind-borne sand that scoured exposed skin clean to the bone, the predators that stalked patiently in the shadows for prey too weak to flee. The cliff edge that a careless girl could slip over, body suspended in space for the briefest moment before her hands tore through the thornbush, then the long hard fall.

Echo jerked back from that imagined edge. It was her last purposeful movement.  From some great height, she watched herself collapse in the sand. One grasping hand, nails torn, knuckles bloody, landed only a few meters from the spring’s cool water, but she never knew it. For a little while her body twitched in irregular spasms, then those too stilled. Only her lips moved, cracking into a bloody smile. “Lia,” she whispered. “Lia.” Then she fell into the dark.

For a long time there was no sound except water trickling in a death rattle over stones.

Then the high whine of engines scattered the circling predators. Pain returned first, of course. Every inch of skin burned, blistered by sun or rubbed raw by the sand that had worked its way inside the desert-proof clothing. Her muscles ached from too long an effort with no fuel and insufficient water, and her head pounded without mercy. Even the movement of air in and out of her lungs hurt, as if she had inhaled fire. But that pain meant she was breathing, and if she was breathing she still had to fight. With enormous effort she dragged open her eyes, only to meet a blinding brightness. She made a sound, and tasted hot salt as her lips cracked open again. “Shhh,” a soft voice said. “Shhh.” Something cool, smelling of resin and water, settled over her eyes, shielding them from the glare. A cloth dabbed at her mouth, then a finger smoothed ointment over her lips, softening them so they wouldn’t split further when she was finally able to speak. Lia, she thought, letting herself rest in that gentle strength until the pain subsided into manageable inputs. Then she began to take stock.

She lay on something soft, not the rock that had made her bed for so many weeks, although her abused flesh still ached at every pressure point. The air felt cool but still, unlike the probing desert wind, and it carried, beyond the herbal tang, a scent rich and round, unlike the silica sharpness of sand she’d grown so accustomed to. Filtered through the cloth over her eyes, the light seemed diffuse, too dim for the sun. Indoors, then, and not a temporary shelter, but a place with thick walls, and a bed, and someone with sufficient resources to retrieve a dying woman from the desert, and a reason to do so. But what that reason might be eluded her. The Church would never rescue a failure.

Unless the Saint commanded it.

She mustered all her strength and dragged the cloth from her eyes. She blinked away grit until the blurred oval hovering above her took on distinct features, the soft line of the cheek, the gently curving lips. Lia, she thought again, and in her weakness tears washed the vision away. She wiped her eyes with a trembling hand.

And stared into the face of an utter stranger.
 Excerpt from Regeneration by Stacey Berg.  Copyright © 2017 by Stacey Berg. Reproduced with permission from Harper Voyager. All rights reserved.



Stacey Berg


Author Bio:



Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

Visit Stacey Berg on her Website, Goodreads Page, and on Twitter!



Tour Host Participants:

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Giveaway!!



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Stacey Berg and Harper Voyager. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dissension by Stacey Berg. The giveaway begins on March 13th and runs through April 4th, 2017.


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Book Showcase: SAMANTHA by Andrea Kane

Samantha by Andrea Kane Tour Banner


Samantha

by Andrea Kane
on Tour October 2016


Samantha by Andrea Kane

Book Details


Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Number of Pages: ~418
Series: Book 2 in “Barrett Family Series” (You won’t want to miss Book 1, My Heart’s Desire, either!)


Don’t Miss Your Chance to Read Samantha! You can purchase your own copy at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, AND add it to your reading list on Goodreads!





Synopsis:

Lady Samantha Barrett wondered if her imaginary hero would ever become real. Of course, he must be devastatingly handsome and just a bit dangerous. Now, her coach is filled with a collection of Gothic novels and her head with romantic notions as she eagerly leaves her brother’s country estate for her first London season. Still unsophisticated and too innocent by far, Samantha is ill-prepared for the hypocrisy of the ton or for the formidable stranger who crosses her path—a stranger she is sure must be the man of her dreams…

Remington Worth, the Earl of Gresham, is reputed to be anything but a hero. He is, however, intrigued by the fresh, young Lady Samantha. At sea, Remington had been a brilliant captain. To help save his country, he has accepted the Crown’s commission to become the most deadly and loyal covert agent, posing as a notorious womanizer and blackmailer. His latest mission is to investigate the mysterious disappearances of England’s prized merchant vessels. With an iron will, he will allow no one to get in his way or touch his heart—until Samantha.



Read an excerpt:



In walked the man of her dreams.

Samantha stared, transfixed, as the vision stepped directly from the pages of her latest gothic romance into the noisy, smoke-filled tavern.

He had arrived… her long-awaited hero.

It mattered not that he was a total stranger to her… nor that he patronized so seedy an establishment as this… nor that he pointedly displayed an ominous-looking knife handle from the top of one muddied Hessian boot. All that mattered was his towering height, his thick black hair, his uncompromising jaw, his piercing gray eyes. And that dimple… it was just where she’d always known it would be; in his left cheek. It flashed briefly as he nodded a greeting to someone, then vanished into the taut lines of his face.

Yes, it was irrefutably he… the hero of all her fantasies.

Breathless and eager, Samantha watched as he carelessly swung off his great coat, shaking rivulets of rain from it with swift, purposeful strokes. Simultaneously, he surveyed the room, his cool gaze taking in the shoddy furnishings and seedy occupants in one enveloping glance.

He moved forward, commanding and sure, coming closer to where Sammy sat… close enough so she could see the drops of water glistening in his raven-black hair, causing the ends to curl a bit at the nape. He seemed to be looking for someone.

Instead, he found her.

Dark brows raised, not with instantaneous, adoring surrender, but with decided, disapproving surprise.

Without hesitating, Sammy flashed him a smile, drinking in his splendid, chiseled features and exciting, leashed power. He was just as she had imagined him… no, better.

Her heart tightened in her chest as he approached her.

“What despicable cad deserted you here, little one?”

“Pardon me?” Sammy blinked in confusion.

With apparent disgust, her hero scanned the room. “You needn’t feel ashamed. Just tell me what unscrupulous blackguard accompanied you to such a place, then abandoned you.”

“Oh, nothing like that, sir.” Sammy assured him brightly. “Actually, it was I who spotted this establishment from my carriage window and chose to stop here. Given the circumstances, it seemed the best place…”

“The best place… to what?” He looked censuring now, his gray eyes chilling, stormier than the skies that heralded tonight’s downpour. “Is this your idea of an evening adventure? If so, you’ve either lost your way or your mind! Tell me, have you looked about you? I seriously doubt that you have, else you would have bolted. And, thankfully, it seems that these low-lifes have yet to spot you as prey. Had they done so, I assure you that your elegant gown would have long since been tossed up over your foolish, beautiful head!”

Sammy sucked in her breath. This wasn’t at all the way she’d envisioned their first meeting.

Following her hero’s icy, pointed gaze, she surveyed the dimly lit tavern, trying to see what was upsetting him so. True, the tables were a bit shabby, even broken in spots, and the pungent smell of gin… mixed with some other, unrecognizable foul odor… permeated the room. And, she had to admit, the occupants of the tavern did need to shave… as well as to bathe. Still, they’d shown no signs of harming or even approaching her; so why was her hero hinting at violence?

“I don’t know what you mean, sir,” she confessed, bewildered. “Despite their rather coarse attire and unpolished manners, the gentlemen here have made no improper advances toward me. They are merely enjoying their spirits and each other’s company.”

The stranger gaped in utter disbelief.

“Gentlemen?” he managed. Leaning forward, he lowered his voice to a muffled hiss. “Sheltered innocent, what you see are pickpockets, highwaymen and drunks… and an occasional murderer or two.” He straightened, emphatic and fierce. “This is Boydry’s… as unsavory a pub as they come… not the bloody Clarendon Hotel!”

“Really?” Samantha was finding it very difficult to share the intensity of his tirade. She was too busy drowning in the hypnotic spell of his towering presence. And, after all, he was only trying to protect her… the foremost duty of a true hero.

“If such is the case, then why are you here?” she asked, half-tempted to stroke the hard, uncompromising line of his jaw. “You don’t appear unsavory to me.”

His dimple flickered in response. “Don’t I? That is only because you don’t know me.”

“No… but I’d like to.”

He blinked. “You’d like to…”

“Oh yes. Don’t you see?” Sammy leaned forward, making an animated sweep with her hands. “It’s as if Mrs. Radcliffe had penned it; a young woman alone… darkness… danger.” A pause. “Of course I would have preferred a castle turret to a tavern…” she gave a philosophical shrug, “… nevertheless, you’ve arrived… and you’re exactly as I pictured you.”

“You have lost your mind,” he muttered.





Author Bio:

Andrea KaneAndrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including thirteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles.


With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.


Connect With Ms. Kane on Facebook, Twitter, & her website.



Tour Host Participants:

Take a minute to stop by some of the other blogs in the tour! They have exciting features, reviews, and special giveaways!




Enter for a Chance to Win!



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Andrea Kane and Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Samantha by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on September 28th and runs through November 3rd, 2016.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Visit Providence Book Promotions to Join in & Find More Great Reads!

Guest Author Post by Andrea Kane – SAMANTHA



I’m always excited when an author decides to visit The Book Diva’s Reads, and doubly so when it’s one of my favorited authors. I’m honored to host a visit from Andrea Kane, an author that I’ve come to know and relish by reading her psychological thriller novels and am getting to know and appreciate in a whole new way through her historical romance novels. Today, Ms. Kane will be discussing the growth of a character in the novel Samantha.



How Samantha Grew as a Character



A spin-off is a very complex thing to write. To my way of thinking, it has to be a stand-alone title, one that has its own complete story and its own complete characters. And yet, it also has to be seamlessly tied to the book from which it originated.

Samantha was my very first spin-off, born from my very first novel, My Heart’s Desire. It was as special a book to me as Sammy was as a character. From the instant she appeared on the pages of My Heart’s Desire—Drake’s loyal and loving younger sister—I knew she had to have her own book. It wasn’t a question of “if”; it was only a question of “when”. And the “when” took some time—several years to be exact. Sammy had to grow up, and I had to mentally watch her do so. Transitioning from a precocious fifteen-year-old girl to a ready-to-take-on-the-world eighteen-year-old, Sammy embarked on her first London Season with her own ideas of what it would yield. And it wasn’t a stream of boring noblemen courting her and trying to win her hand.  Nor was it an endless sea of vapid parties and equally vapid conversation. No, Sammy’s goal was to meet and marry the man of her dreams—a man that, with all her naiveté and innocence, she expected to walk into her life and automatically be the hero she’d imagined him to be. Naturally, things didn’t go quite that way.

As a result, even during the course of her own book, Sammy had some growing pains to overcome. And overcome them she did. She matured from an innocent young woman to a strong and determined adult, one who had to overcome dangers and to learn to fiercely protect the man she loved. And the man she loved was a complex and challenging man—a man she had to grow to understand, to heal, and to accept as her true and lifelong hero.

I don’t think I’ve ever loved writing a character more than I did Samantha. It was probably the romantic in me, the dreamer of happily-ever-after, and the believer in the age-old story of how true love conquers all. I hope you feel the same way after you’ve read Samantha!






Samantha by Andrea Kane

Book Details


Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Number of Pages: ~418
Series: Book 2 in “Barrett Family Series” (You won’t want to miss Book 1, My Heart’s Desire, either!)

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Read Samantha! You can purchase your own copy at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, AND add it to your reading list on Goodreads!





Synopsis:



Lady Samantha Barrett wondered if her imaginary hero would ever become real. Of course, he must be devastatingly handsome and just a bit dangerous. Now, her coach is filled with a collection of Gothic novels and her head with romantic notions as she eagerly leaves her brother’s country estate for her first London season. Still unsophisticated and too innocent by far, Samantha is ill-prepared for the hypocrisy of the ton or for the formidable stranger who crosses her path—a stranger she is sure must be the man of her dreams…

Remington Worth, the Earl of Gresham, is reputed to be anything but a hero. He is, however, intrigued by the fresh, young Lady Samantha. At sea, Remington had been a brilliant captain. To help save his country, he has accepted the Crown’s commission to become the most deadly and loyal covert agent, posing as a notorious womanizer and blackmailer. His latest mission is to investigate the mysterious disappearances of England’s prized merchant vessels. With an iron will, he will allow no one to get in his way or touch his heart—until Samantha.



Read an excerpt:



In walked the man of her dreams.

Samantha stared, transfixed, as the vision stepped directly from the pages of her latest gothic romance into the noisy, smoke-filled tavern.

He had arrived…her long-awaited hero.

It mattered not that he was a total stranger to her… nor that he patronized so seedy an establishment as this… nor that he pointedly displayed an ominous-looking knife handle from the top of one muddied Hessian boot. All that mattered was his towering height, his thick black hair, his uncompromising jaw, his piercing gray eyes. And that dimple…it was just where she’d always known it would be; in his left cheek. It flashed briefly as he nodded a greeting to someone, then vanished into the taut lines of his face.

Yes, it was irrefutably he…the hero of all her fantasies.

Breathless and eager, Samantha watched as he carelessly swung off his great coat, shaking rivulets of rain from it with swift, purposeful strokes. Simultaneously, he surveyed the room, his cool gaze taking in the shoddy furnishings and seedy occupants in one enveloping glance.

He moved forward, commanding and sure, coming closer to where Sammy sat… close enough so she could see the drops of water glistening in his raven-black hair, causing the ends to curl a bit at the nape. He seemed to be looking for someone.

Instead, he found her.

Dark brows raised, not with instantaneous, adoring surrender, but with decided, disapproving surprise.

Without hesitating, Sammy flashed him a smile, drinking in his splendid, chiseled features and exciting, leashed power. He was just as she had imagined him…no, better.

Her heart tightened in her chest as he approached her.

“What despicable cad deserted you here, little one?”

“Pardon me?” Sammy blinked in confusion.

With apparent disgust, her hero scanned the room. “You needn’t feel ashamed. Just tell me what unscrupulous blackguard accompanied you to such a place, then abandoned you.”

“Oh, nothing like that, sir.” Sammy assured him brightly. “Actually, it was I who spotted this establishment from my carriage window and chose to stop here. Given the circumstances, it seemed the best place…”

“The best place… to what?” He looked censuring now, his gray eyes chilling, stormier than the skies that heralded tonight’s downpour. “Is this your idea of an evening adventure? If so, you’ve either lost your way or your mind! Tell me, have you looked about you? I seriously doubt that you have, else you would have bolted. And, thankfully, it seems that these low-lifes have yet to spot you as prey. Had they done so, I assure you that your elegant gown would have long since been tossed up over your foolish, beautiful head!”

Sammy sucked in her breath. This wasn’t at all the way she’d envisioned their first meeting.

Following her hero’s icy, pointed gaze, she surveyed the dimly lit tavern, trying to see what was upsetting him so. True, the tables were a bit shabby, even broken in spots, and the pungent smell of gin… mixed with some other, unrecognizable foul odor… permeated the room. And, she had to admit, the occupants of the tavern did need to shave… as well as to bathe. Still, they’d shown no signs of harming or even approaching her; so why was her hero hinting at violence?

“I don’t know what you mean, sir,” she confessed, bewildered. “Despite their rather coarse attire and unpolished manners, the gentlemen here have made no improper advances toward me. They are merely enjoying their spirits and each other’s company.”

The stranger gaped in utter disbelief.

“Gentlemen?” he managed. Leaning forward, he lowered his voice to a muffled hiss. “Sheltered innocent, what you see are pickpockets, highwaymen and drunks… and an occasional murderer or two.” He straightened, emphatic and fierce. “This is Boydry’s… as unsavory a pub as they come… not the bloody Clarendon Hotel!”

“Really?” Samantha was finding it very difficult to share the intensity of his tirade. She was too busy drowning in the hypnotic spell of his towering presence. And, after all, he was only trying to protect her… the foremost duty of a true hero.

“If such is the case, then why are you here?” she asked, half-tempted to stroke the hard, uncompromising line of his jaw. “You don’t appear unsavory to me.”

His dimple flickered in response. “Don’t I? That is only because you don’t know me.”

“No… but I’d like to.”

He blinked. “You’d like to…”

“Oh yes. Don’t you see?” Sammy leaned forward, making an animated sweep with her hands. “It’s as if Mrs. Radcliffe had penned it; a young woman alone…darkness…danger.” A pause. “Of course I would have preferred a castle turret to a tavern…” she gave a philosophical shrug, “…nevertheless, you’ve arrived…and you’re exactly as I pictured you.”

“You have lost your mind,” he muttered.





Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including thirteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles.

With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.


Connect With Ms. Kane on Facebook, Twitter, & her website.



Tour Host Participants:

Take a minute to stop by some of the other blogs in the tour! They have exciting features, reviews, and special giveaways!






Enter for a Chance to Win!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Andrea Kane and Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Samantha by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on September 28th and runs through November 3rd, 2016.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit Providence Book Promotions to Join in & Find More Great Reads!